The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Maintenance required to keep masculinity in check

There comes a point about every three months in a guy's life when he's sitting peacefully on a couch somewhere, and an intrusive thought jumps into his head for better or for worse. "I should probably get my oil changed." This thought has cursed men ever since the time of their acceptance into civilized society (1983 to be exact).

It doesn't matter if the man doesn't know anything about cars, for example, how the cup holder functions, the words "oil change" will nonetheless begin blinking in his head like a strobe light. (This is not to say that women don't get their oil changed. I just imagine they would take a much more logical approach to it.)

Men have had this problem for thousands of years. In fact, in early Egyptian times, wives and children often would be left to fend for themselves while all the men in the society ran around aimlessly trying to figure out the meaning behind the thought, "I should probably get my oil changed."

On the other hand, we modern-day men turn on ESPN post haste and distract ourselves from the thought for another month or two. However, at that point the thought launches a counteroffensive in the more convincing form of "I should really get my oil changed."

So those of us who don't know how to change it ourselves then head off to some sort of oil change facility which has "Jiffy," "Quicky," or "While You Wait" in its name. For the 50 percent of men that, like me, know very little about motor vehicles, this trip is quite intimidating. We have to hand our beloved vehicle over to a bunch of guys with names like Bull who then do lots of stuff to our car that we don't understand. This process feels similar to how it would feel if you brought your wife or girlfriend to a guy you'd never met before who somehow knew a hell of a lot more about her than you did. "Don't worry, man. I'll have her working right in no time."

The mechanics who work on your car always have at least two-thirds of each of their hands dyed black, which means either they work on car engines all day long or they never wash their hands (or, in most cases, both). These blackened hands actually serve as a form of intimidation to all the men who have never had blackened hands. This is because it was established long ago that men with dirty hands or clothes are to be considered far manlier than those with clean clothes and hands. For this reason when we men come home from a neighborhood football game, we proudly strut around the house in our muddy, sweat-stained clothes for hours, if not days, in an attempt to impress our wives or girlfriends. However, women apparently never received the memo that nastiness is manly, and most of the wives or girlfriends will evacuate the premises long before we are done showing off.

When I arrived at Jiffy Lube for my latest oil change, I had to relinquish control of my car to several people I probably would not trust to water my bonsai tree for a weekend.

Bull then came over and asked me complicated car questions such as what type of oil I wanted. He then listed five types of oils and made it sound like the only type which would give my car a fighting chance of making it back to my apartment in one piece was the $50 deluxe brand made from four leaf clovers and baby unicorn noses. However, I had seen several "Dateline" reports in which unsuspecting idiots like myself were tricked into paying upwards of five dollars more than they should have. So I asked him about the less expensive brands.

Me: What about the $10 brand? Bull: Well, it's not bad, but your car will blow up in a few days.

It just so happened that I had a bottle of oil in the back of my car at the time. So I also asked if they could simply use the oil I already had. Their response to this was a long stretch of technical car terms including words like "combustion" and "gudgeons." From what I gathered he essentially said, "No, we don't like to do that because it could, under some circumstances, save you money. So we'd still prefer to pressure you into purchasing a brand new, very expensive bottle of oil." It sounded fair enough, so I agreed and headed off to the waiting room feeling triumphant. I had asked a lot of pointless questions, and in my opinion that made me a well-informed consumer.

The small waiting room had a huge window allowing nervous customers to view the excessively expensive dismantling of their automobiles. The room also had a television turned to a soap opera in order to remind all the customers that everybody in the world is filled with deceit and ulterior motives. This was a comforting thought since I had just entrusted my car to a man in a one-piece jump suit.

Eventually a mechanic came into the waiting room holding what seemed to be either a piece of my car or some old food I had left in the back seat. The man told me it was my air filter and proceeded to pull open parts of it to show me that there was dirt inside, which meant it needed to be replaced. The truth is he could have been showing me someone else's air filter. Heck, he could have been showing me someone else's glove compartment, and I wouldn't have known the difference. In fact, he could have shown me a live koala bear and said that my air filter shouldn't have eyes like that, and I would have replied, "You're right. It does seem to have at least two eyes. Better have that replaced."

After 20 minutes Bull called me out to give him a lot of my money. He read a long list of car parts and what their status was in my car. If I remember correctly he said, "Coolant - fine; oil - good; tires - suck; windows - covered in bird poop; fan belt - we accidentally broke that; air filter - replaced with a koala bear; steering wheel - relocated to the trunk; engine - damned if we know. The total comes to ... all the money you currently have in your wallet or $100, whichever is greater."

I soon got out of there after being reunited with my car or one that looked similar. On the way home a light began flashing in the dashboard which read, "maint. reqd." I just assumed that was my car's way of saying "Thank you" in some unknown car language. I said, "You're welcome," and continued on my way.


Latest Podcast

From her love of Taylor Swift to a late-night Yik Yak post, Olivia Beam describes how Swifties at U.Va. was born. In this week's episode, Olivia details the thin line Swifties at U.Va. successfully walk to share their love of Taylor Swift while also fostering an inclusive and welcoming community.